We have learned that good negotiator has to 1) Be patient and honest 2) Know alternatives including BATNA (Best alternative to a negotiated agreement) 3) Find what other party wants 4) Know other parties BATNA 5) Do the research 6) Give and expect reasons for offers 7) Not be scared to ask 8) Know how to use social persuasion techniques 9) Keep emotions controlled 10) Leave opportunities to back down.
To look at how all those different factors influence negotiation I have chosen a scene from FRIENDS to analyse.
Little prehistory: Chandler was going out with Rachel’s boss. Rachel asked him to break up with her, as it became complicated and could cause her loosing the job. Chandler did not break up with the woman and ended up half naked in the office handcuffed to the chair while she was gone. He asks Rachel to let him go but she is angry with him for not keeping the promise and not breaking up with her boss.
So, what do we have .. Chandler starts conversation with the complement, which is known to be a reliable compliance technique (Grant, Fabrigar & Lim, 2010). That was a sneaky step as it is always nice to hear good staff about yourself. In this case this does not work that well, as Rachel is angry with Chandler for not breaking up with her boss. His next step is making her feel bad for him, saying that he is alone and cold, and her boss could have left for hours. He is trying to use guilt as it was found to have various relationship-enhancing functions. According to Baumeister, Stillwell and Heatherton (1994) guilt is motivating people to treat partners well, minimizing inequities and enabling less powerful partners to get their way. Rachel agrees to let him go, if he promises to break up with the boss lady and never see her again. She basically uses ‘trading’, she asks for something in the exchange for his freedom. One can argue that this is a reciprocity technique but in a more aggressive way. By accepting freedom Chandler will feel obliged to do whatever Rachel asks him.
Rachel than realizes that if her boss finds out that she let Chandler go, she will get angry and still fire her. She became worried and made a ‘scene’ in front of Chandler which was a bad idea, as it made her look needier than him. This gave Chandler an advantage, even when Rachel cuffed him to the shelves, she was the one who had something to lose, while for him the worst scenario included waiting for his ‘girlfriend’ for few hours alone in a nice room (which is not that bad, actually). He has power by having an alternative which usually increases one's own outcome (Pinkley, Neale & Bennett, 1994) while the opponent is in disadvantaged situation with no alternatives.
Chandler now is in better situation and both negotiators understand it, so Rachel starts offering all kind of things like cleaning bathroom for a month or making juice for him every morning. Chandler declines everything wanting his freedom (or just waiting for something better Rachel can offer).
When Rachel thought of something every person wants to offer to Chandler – social recognition. He agrees, because he doesn’t have anything to lose, and accepting an offer is kind of winning, as few hours that he ‘gave up’ are nothing in comparison with the social approval, especially for the shy and kind of lonely person like Chandler. Twenge, J. M. and Im, C. (2007) found that positive social trends correlate with the desire of social approval. In the situation presented above the absence of those positive social trends during childhood (e.g. divorce of parents) move Chandler to accept the offer and get that desired social recognition. In this negotiation, Rachel managed to find Chandler’s BATNA and win the negotiation being in a disadvantaged situation from the beginning. That’s the example of good negotiation skills!
Baumeister, R. F., Stillwell, A. M., & Heatherton, T. F. (1994). Guilt: An interpersonal approach. Psychological Bulletin, 115(2), 243-267.
Grant, N. K., Fabrigar, L. R., & Lim, H. (2010). Exploring the efficacy of compliments as a tactic for securing compliance. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 32(3), 226-233.
Pinkley, R. L., Neale, M. A., & Bennett, R. J. (1994). The impact of alternatives to settlement in dyadic negotiation. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 57(1), 97-116.
Twenge, J. M., & Im, C. (2007). Changes in the need for social approval, 1958–2001. Journal of Research in Personality, 41(1), 171-189.